Nutrition and specific diets have historically been linked to chronic diseases. Regional influences affect the diet, but nutrition intake can host a variety of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and more (WHO, 2002). Healthy diet and focusing on nutrition are key to a healthy life, and increasing quality of life. Chronic diseases account for 70% of the deaths in America alone, and the leading cause of disability, but could easily be prevented through lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits (Harvard, 2017).

Alzheimer’s disease has also been examined in connection to diet. In 2006, a study by Columbia Medical center examined Alzheimer’s disease with diet, specifically adhering to a Mediterranean diet; high vegetables, olive oil, fish, and fruits, low meat, dairy, and moderate ethanol consumption (usually in the form of red wine). The results of the findings found those in the highest quartiles of Mediterranean diet adherence were most likely to have gradual reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease due in part to a dose-response effect (Scarmeas et. al., 2006). This was one of the earliest studies examining the linkage between the two.

Now, the latest study in diet and Alzheimer’s disease tested on obese mice examined the genetic component. Researchers observed APOE4, also known as apolipoprotein E which creates proteins that attach themselves with lipids to form lipoproteins (NIH, 2017). These lipoproteins have been found to pack cholesterol and fat throughout the bloodstream, and the 12% population who have been found to inherit the gene are at risk for obesity, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease (Pike et. al., 2017). The experiment tested mice for 12-weeks using a high western diet (typically high fat and protein) and noticed the mice who had APOE4 compared to their counterparts with the more common APOE3, contained a significantly higher glial cell count which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s (Pike et. al., 2017).

The significant of this research could unravel the likelihood of a patient’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The experiment would further need to be recreated and tested in human subjects, but there has been previous data hinting at APOE4 and Alzheimer’s disease. It is only until now that these connections are further detangled, by combining the components of diet. 


COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr. DetinaZalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Antonio Del Vecchio (Cornell University, Division of Nutritional Sciences).